Small business owners are notoriously busy. You have a business to run, a Web presence to manage, customers to serve, vendors to hunt down, invoices to pay, social media to keep up with, and, oh, sometimes you like to pretend to have a social life. With so many different things on your plate, wouldn’t it be nice if this week left time to get just ONE under control? If perhaps there were just a handful of things you could tackle to wake up in a better place next Monday?
Well, there are.
Today is Tuesday. Below are five simple things to tackle so you can start next week off ahead of the game and with a stronger Web site.
1. Focus On Your Navigation
Often overlooked, your site navigation is crucial to creating a successful Web site. Your nav is what a customer will use to get around and find the information on your site. To aid them in this journey, you want to make your navigation as intuitive and easy to use as you can. Don’t hide your navigation, don’t try and be “clever” when naming certain items – focus on giving your customers something they can use, and use quickly.
As general rule, your main navigation bar should be easy to find, look and feel consistent, have properly named tabs (“trash cans” not “garbage receptacles”) and should always let customers know where they are on your site. If you’re not sure how well your site navigation does at helping customers on their way, a service like usertesting.com can help you see, from a user perspective, what it feels like navigating around your site. It may also be time to do some keyword research to make sure the keywords and phrases you’re using in your site navigation are still relevant.
2. Create a Better About Page
If you’re like many small business owners, you do a pretty good job ignoring your About page. I mean, you created one. Mostly. You threw in some bio information, your address and you even included a nice stock image of a woman dutifully at work. It’s not like anyone really uses that page, right?
As an SMB, one of the worst things you can do for your Web site is to ignore your About page. This is where customers go to learn more about your business, to gain trust, to see what you’re about, and, ultimately, decide if you’re a company they want to do business with. Stock your About Page with the Must Haves like:
- Your story
- Your credentials
- What they can expect from you/your value
- Where they can get more info about you
- Humanizing details
It’s easy to look at your About page as a chore or something that makes you uncomfortable. Instead, think of it as your formal introduction to your audience. What do you want them to know about feel about your brand? Show it here.
3. Update Your Blog
Sometimes bringing life (and customers) back to your Web site really is that easy. Spend some time this week to update your blog. Create a new post that takes a look inside your business (and maybe highlights your new About page), answer a long-standing consumer problem, share your thoughts on where the industry is going in 2012. Just get writing and talking to your audience again.
Updating your blog not only gives your audience something to find and engage with, it gives the search engines something to find, as well. It gives them a reason to revisit your site
4. Get That Contact Form User-Ready
The goal for many service-based Web sites is to guide a customer to that all-important contact form. We need our visitor to fill it out and give us their information in order to continue a dialogue with them. If they leave our site WITHOUT making it to this point, we’ve lost them. Forever. Probably to a competitor.
What does your own contact form look like? If you’re not confident in its ability, you may want to go grab a family member, sit them in front of a computer staring at your Web site, and then ask them to navigate through your site with a specific purpose in mind. Are they able to get there and make it to the contact form or convert? Or do they get scared off along the way?
Your site’s contact form should follow a few rules:
- It should be intuitive.
- It should be simple.
- It should only ask for the information you absolutely need to take a relationship with your customers to the next level.
Where contact forms go wrong is when they either try to get too much information in one sitting or they intimidate your visitor – either due to length, scope or language. Keep it simple, only ask for the information you absolutely need, and you can be confident you have a form that will due it’s purpose.
5. Show Off Your Social Media
Another quick way to add some life to your Web site is to do a better job showcasing all of your different social media profiles. Are you on Twitter? On Facebook? Google+? Have a LinkedIn profile? Sweet. Make sure you’re including a prominent call to action for visitors to follow you on these networks. Include the icons directly on your home page and on other prominent pages of your site (like your blog, About page, or Contact Us page, for example). Not only does cross-linking these profiles increase their strength, it also gives customers another place to go engage with you. They can go to your Twitter account and ask you a question, or see what questions you’re already answering. They can head to Google+ and see the media you’re sharing. Or head to LinkedIn and hop into a discussion you’re leading. These are all great trust signals.
The more connected you can look to your customers, the more they’re going to trust that you’re a reputable SMB that will be around in the morning should something go wrong.
Those are just five small things you can do to your Web site this week to increase its strength and make it more valuable and engaging to a user. What plans do you have for your Web presence this week?
Nice article, I like the idea of keeping it simple, and targeting small actions “for the week”.
I agree with your point about making the “about” page more personal. It definitely helps the business when visitors know who they are dealing with, there are so many websites these days, having a name and bio makes it more real and help create a connection.
You’re right about the About page. This page gets a disproportionately high number of visits and therefore can make or break a lot of sales. Tell your story like you’re talking to a customer. Record yourself and have someone transcribe it if necessary. As Flint McGlaughlin of MarketingExperiments.com likes to say “People don’t buy from websites. People buy from people.” Your About page will let them know you as a person.
Oh, and put a call-to-action on the page. Don’t miss the opportunity to ask for the sale.
Useful article for anyone with a website or even for someone about to create one – thanks!
These are great points. We haven’t updated our About Us page in awhile — personal bios is a wonderful idea, one that we use on our blog but not our actual business website. I know what I’m doing this afternoon — thanks for the tips!
I especially like #1, navigation. It’s so frustrating when you get to a site and it’s difficult to make your way around; definite turn-off. Great tips!
Thanks for your short, easily do-able list of web site updates, Lisa. Nothing here that even the most web site-challenged person can’t handle, but all are important tweaks that can made big differences in traffic and conversions.
#4 hit home so hard! Nearly every day I try to get clients (mostly micro/local businesses) to simplify their contact forms. Something I’m running into quite a bit is the salesforce dot com defense… companies don’t want to simplify their contact forms because the form data is getting pushed directly into salesforce.
The best way I have found to convince them to shorten their contact form – if they don’t believe me from the get go – is to send them a few of the articles like this one indicating how important it is…kind of overwhelm them with back up…
Thanks for the excellent piece –
I think you’re spot on regarding the About page. I monitor my client’s sites analytics on a regular basis and the About Page in the majority of cases is the second most visited after the Home page.
To expand on Lisa’s “humanising” point the about page is where the principal sets the tone and voice of his/her company. It’s the first point at which you start establishing trust and developing a relationship with your customer.
AS it’s the second most high traffic area I would also add a prominent call to action and links to social media profiles.
Thank you Lisa for these excellect suggestions. With so much to do focusing on a small set of high impact suggestions makes a huge difference. These really identified not only important points but also things that can be done starting today.
The About Page is quite often forgotten. Being the second most popular page on your site it is very important. Try to get some more links to other parts of the website on it! This is a very good article by the way.
I have had a contact form not work so many times when I try to reach out to a business or even worse I have had their phone number be wrong!
I personally try to call if their form isn’t working and let them know, but there is nothing worse than realizing your form is broken weeks afterwards…nothing like not knowing whether anyone has been trying to contact you!
I think your advice on the About page is really important. I have revised my About Page a couple times before sticking with the current version.
You really have to strike a balance in your About page by letting people know who you are, building trust, providing credentials, telling people what they can expect from you, etc.
I really believe that a well written About page can make a difference.
Thanks for the great article!
Good top 5, I include the social sharing buttons in the header of all my online pages. Thanks, Rich
As you have rightly pointed out, showcasing your social presence is very important. If you have good following on any of the networks, you should put special emphasis on highlighting it and displaying the number of followers. This can be great for your trust and credibility.